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FOUR DOWNS: Lions looking at playoffs like new season


The Lions let the NFC North title slip through their grasp Sunday with a 31-24 loss to Green Bay. It was the third straight loss to end the regular season, as Detroit needed a Washington loss to get into the playoffs.

Lions head coach Jim Caldwell was asked by a reporter after the game about "backing into the playoffs," and Caldwell disagreed with the phrase.

View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions' season finale vs. Green Bay Packers.

"I don't know what that means," Caldwell said. "That's sort of a media-driven phrase. A coach won't tell you that because they know how hard it is to get in, no matter how it happened.

"To be one of those 12 is a difficult task. You had to do something right. A lot of things right in order to get there. And I believe our guys did that."

Caldwell and his team's focus immediately turns to the Seattle Seahawks, who the Lions will travel to play Saturday night.

"Excited about what's ahead," said quarterback Matthew Stafford, who threw two touchdowns and an interception in the loss. "We got in. We're one of 12 teams that earned a spot in this thing and it's a brand new season."

The Lions finished the regular season 9-7 and are the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs. Eight of those wins came in come-from-behind fashion in the fourth quarter, but all that means little at this point.

"It was a regular season where our guys earned the right to be right where they are today," Caldwell said. "It might not have been pretty, but we're here, and it's our job to take advantage of it."


Aaron Rodgers called his shot a month and a half ago after a blowout loss to Washington that dropped the Packers to 4-6. He calmly stated after the game that Packers fans shouldn't be worried because they'd run the table the rest of the way.

Rodgers was a man of his word. The Packers won their last six games to snatch the division title away from Detroit. Rodgers was a big reason why.

He completed 27-of-39 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions for a passer rating of 126.0 Sunday night.

He also rushed seven times for 46 yards and was extremely elusive in and out of the pocket, extending countless plays.

"He played excellent," Caldwell said. "He got outside and we just couldn't get him down there a couple times."

His third touchdown pass to receiver Geronimo Allison was impressive. He escaped the pocket, set, escaped again, and then set again before firing a perfect pass to Allison. It was a play that seemed to last 10 seconds before Rodgers threw it, and he had Lions defenders reaching for air, which they did most of the game.


Next up for the Lions is a date with Seattle and their dual-threat quarterback, Russell Wilson.

Given what Rodgers did to Detroit's defense Sunday night, and the fact that Wilson is a similar style of quarterback, it's safe to say Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and Co. need to have a better plan and also execute much better in six days.

"We better work on our sprinting technique a little bit," Caldwell said. "Keep him contained a little better.

"But here's one of the things you have to understand. They do that to everybody. You just have to get them down enough times. We just didn't get (Rodgers) down enough times. And you're not going to completely stop Russell Wilson.

"No one has at this point throughout his career. You just have to get him down enough times to be able to stall the drives and be able to answer with points."


With all the weapons Green Bay can throw at a defense, it was rookie receiver Geronimo Allison and fullback Aaron Ripkowski that Detroit had the toughest time with in this one.

Ripkowski, who entered the game with 25 carries on the year for 89 yards, turned up 61 yards on nine carries to lead a Packers ground game that gained 153 yards total in the game.

He also caught two passes, including a 7-yard touchdown in the first half.

"One of the things that you do know is that they have a quarterback that can make a lot of guys very, very functional and active," Caldwell said. "I just think overall they played a nice game."

Allison led all pass catchers with 91 yards on four receptions. He also had a touchdown catch.

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